As parents we are always taking photos of our children and family, but we can forget that we are part of that family and worthy of being documented too. That’s where self portraits come in to play. I know it can be hard and intimidating at first to turn the camera around and start photographing yourself along side your family, but I also know how important it is for your family and for you to have those memories captured.
Taking self portraits can help you document an emotion, or release an emotion. Once you get the hang of it, self portraits can also be therapeutic and relaxing to do. So here are my 5 tips to get you started with self portraits.
No.01Choose Your Gear
I typically use a tripod and remote set to 2-second delay for my self portraits. Neither of these two things are necessary though. There are so many places to set a camera for a self portrait. I’ve even used the strap to hang the camera somewhere to get a quick shot.
I love using my remote for self portraits because I fee like there is more time to connect with my family when I can stay in one spot and not run back and forth with a timer.
Though I have heard of some moms who have taught their kids how to press the shutter and the kids love running back and forth racing the timer on the camera.
No.02Set the Focus
I have a little system for getting in focus shots every time. I start by placing an object in the frame exactly where I plan on standing. This could be a chair, or pillow, or even one of my kids.
Then I switch my lens to manual focus, and click the Live View Mode on my camera so I can see my whole frame on the LCD screen. If the object I’m trying to focus on is far away or small I will digitally zoom in and get that perfect focus.
Once I’ve done that I will click out of the Live View. I keep my lens set to manual focus to lock it there so I know my camera won’t be auto focusing on things in front of me or behind me.
No.03Pick Your Aperture
I can usually shoot at 1.8 or 2.0 for self portraits because I’ve done a lot of them and know how to get my focus really exact. When I do self portraits with other people in the frame with me I will set my aperture closer to 2.8.
But if you are just starting out I would give yourself a little more wiggle room. It’s no fun looking through pictures that would have been perfect if it hadn’t been shot so wide open and the focus missed.
No.04Prepare for the Candid Moments
Most of my self portraits look candid, unposed, and documentary. It is hard (nearly impossible) to be 100% documentary when you are the photographer taking pictures of yourself. So what I do is note the types of moments and routines that I want to capture and think about how I want to photograph it and when.
Most of my self portraits are of everyday moments that seem to happen often. Usually they happen at a certain part of the day so I know when to expect it. They are usually quick moments and it can be hard to catch them when you have to set up the tripod and change your camera settings to work with your remote.
So I prepare ahead of time to catch those quick shots. My tripod can be a pain to set up, so I have that ready to go and in the room. I also think about the angle and settings I want to use and might even have that set up already.
So when the moment happens all I have to do it hit my remote button and I don’t have to interrupt the moment with bringing camera equipment out and taking time to play with settings. This has helped me create some really special photos with my family.
Shoot from your own perspective. Maybe you don’t feel like being in pictures today. Your hair is a mess, you are still in your pajamas, but a special moment appears and you don’t want to miss out on documenting it. Shoot from your point of view!
Not only can you find other chances to be in pictures this way, but you are giving a unique look into your life from your perspective. Photograph the special moments, but don’t forget to CREATE special moments while taking the pictures.
The shots I’ve gotten while all stressed out might be technically perfect, but they will never be my favorite, and they were definitely not worth what I put my family through to get them.
If you have a camera, the skill, and the patience, you can always try again tomorrow! I promise you there will be another gorgeous sunset, another good hair day, and many, many more moments worth capturing.
It’s time to get in those pictures!